Original Article by Nooga Today.
Editor Kristen here. Back in July, I experienced my first taste of gourmet mushrooms at a local food competition and was absolutely blown away by how delicious they were. The mushrooms used were all grown by business and life partners, Emma Riegel and Gabriel Harrison of Gowin Valley Farms.
Gowin Valley Farms is a small family farm in Rocky Face, GA (a ~30-minute drive from downtown Chattanooga) that has been in operation since 1964. The 122-acre farm was started by Emma’s late grandfather, who specialized in small vegetable and fruit production.
During the pandemic, Emma and Gabriel moved to help out on the farm, which was just temporary at first. While exploring the property, they noticed a large amount of golden chanterelle mushrooms growing along the trails of the farm. This led them to get their foraging certification and sell the mushrooms locally.
From there, the door to growing gourmet mushrooms opened. When deciding whether to pursue a change of careers and transition to permanently living on a farm, Emma said her grandfather gave her some advice: “Never let someone tell you you can’t do what you want.”
Fast forward to now, Gowin Valley Farms has a new focus on sustainable indoor + outdoor gourmet mushroom operations — and all of the mushrooms are certified naturally grown (think: no GMOs or any synthetic chemicals used).
The farm received a grant and is working in partnership with Kennesaw State University + Cornell University to conduct indoor mushroom-growing research. They received a mushroom cultivation chamber (inside a 40-ft shipping container) equipped with systems to automatically regulate the growing conditions of the mushrooms.
Now, the farm is able to grow and isolate wild cultures of over 20 gourmet mushroom species like lion’s mane, turkey tail, shiitake, oyster, and chestnut. The growing process is pretty incredible — you can learn more about that on the farm’s website.
So, where are these mushrooms going exactly? To local chefs and potentially to your plate. The farm delivers its mushrooms to local spots like St. John’s Restaurant, Cashew, and Whitebird Chattanooga.
Bonus: If you’re a local chef or restaurant owner looking to add some local mushrooms to your menu, you can reach out to Emma via email about ordering.
Want to try out some of the mushrooms for yourself? Gowin Valley Farms is set up at the Chattanooga Market on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Make sure to follow them on Instagram for other pop-ups, educational opportunities, and visits to their farm.
Additionally, you can shop their products online. Check out some of the tinctures that are produced in-house, growing kits, and other supplies.